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Manziel: “What Makes Me Special On The Field Is What People Don’t Like Off The Field”

cannon-firingIt looks as though there’s yet another lesson that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is need of learning.  See if you can pick up on it by reading this Johnny Football quote from a recent Sports Illustrated interview:

 

“I’m adapting.  I’m learning.  I’m trying to learn from these mistakes.  But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this.  I’m not going to do that… You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon.  What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field.  I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.”

 

If you said, “He needs to learn that being ‘dangerous and a loose cannon’ on the field is different than being ‘dangerous and a loose cannon’ in real life,” you win the prize.  One is a game.  The other is the honest-to-goodness real world.  There is a different standard for acceptable behavior inside and outside the white lines.  The dangers inside the stadium — a blown ACL, a concussion — can’t compare to the dangers outside.

Normally, the topic of “how can they leave the game at the ballpark?” comes up when someone who plays a violent sport turns violent in his personal life.  This, however, is a rare occasion when a quarterback suggests that his football success ties back to his very “loose cannon” nature.

How long before Manziel jumps a quarry on a motorcycle a la Joe Kane in “The Program?”

I can already hear the response from some members of Aggie Nation.  “Stop vilifying Johnny!”  Well, no one here is vilifying your quarterback.  He’s not shot, stabbed or mugged anyone this offseason.  He’s not been picked up for coke, weed or any other illegal substance.  Even his drinking is typical behavior for a college student (though the whole drinking to relieve stress thing needs correcting).

Far from vilifying him, personally, I worry about him.  I become more worried about him every time I read another quote from him.  And thanks to Twitter and an open-door media policy, I read a new quote from him every single stinkin’ day.  I’m not alone.  Outside of maroon cocoon many Aggie fans live in, there’s a growing feeling — and how could you not get it from reading his own father’s recent quotes — that Manziel might just become the next Todd Marinovich or Ryan Leaf in terms of blown potential.

Amazingly, a few A&M’ers even took our four-step list of Manziel “to dos” as a negative.  “Hell, no!  We want him drinking, tweeting his every thought, and continuing to feed the FAME beast he claims to be running from.”  Good to know you’ve got your QBs best interest at heart, gang.

Anyone who can’t see that this guy needs someone in his life to provide leadership and good advice is so vision-impaired they should take away his driver’s license.  That doesn’t make Manziel a bad guy.  It makes him someone worthy of concern.

If Manziel — such an impossibly electrifying athlete — doesn’t soon realize that NFL teams aren’t looking for franchise quarterbacks who are loose cannons off the field, he may find himself tumbling down next April’s draft board.

Loose cannon on the field = good.  Loose cannon off the field = smaller contract.

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A&M’s Sumlin Says UF Players Were “Flopping Around” Saturday; Plus A Billboard Update

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin might have lost Saturday’s game with Florida, but that didn’t stop him from taking a shot at the Gators’ conditioning… or, perhaps, their acting.  According to Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle, the Aggie coach took a dig at UF during a press conference yesterday:

 

“Sumlin said his team appeared in good shape in the opener against Florida and ‘it wasn’t our team flopping around on the field in the second half.’ I asked him if the Gators’ ‘flopping around’ was because of conditioning or something else. ‘You were there,’ he responded.”

 

Well, now.  It seems Sumlin’s got a little edge to him.  Between Will Muschamp’s comments about College Station this offseason, a pro-Aggie billboard in Gainesville last week, and this comment/accusation from Sumlin it looks as though Texas A&M and Florida are quickly developing a nice little rivalry.

Speaking of that billboard, when last we left the story Texas A&M University had gotten the sign taken down, had made it clear that the school was not involved in it ever going up, and had told us at MrSEC.com that they were “getting close to identifying the purchaser.”  The purchaser turned out to be a group calling itself “Aggie Nation.”  A contract tying that group to a pro-Texas Longhorn website soon started appearing on A&M messageboards, but said contract was soon branded as fake.

So where are things now?  According to Jason Cook — TAMU’s VP or marketing and communications — the school has “sent a cease and desist letter to the organization on file for purchasing the media, and are continuing to pursue aggressively.”

Here’s the thing, though — If A&M officials find that someone with Texas or Baylor ties, for example, was behind the purchase of that billboard, you can bet they’ll let the whole world know about it.  But if we never hear who indeed was behind that braggadocious sign, the more it will look like A&M’s investigation led back to an actual Aggie fan or fan group.

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A&M Billboard Comes Down In Gainesville; Aggie Fans React; But Who Was Behind It?

Well, the billboard that was the talk of the sporting world yesterday is no more.  The sign which went up in Gainesville and told Texas A&M’s next opponent, Florida, that they had been “annexed by Aggie Nation” came down for legal reasons.  And the search for the one-armed man behind the billboard goes on.

When the story first broke yesterday, the school immediately put out a release — and sent this website a couple of very nice emails — stating that no one tied to Texas A&M had anything to do with the sign.  And I don’t think anyone would think that the school was behind the board.  Florida president Bernie Machen and A&M president R. Bowen Loftin actually worked together to start the Aggie ball rolling toward the SEC.  And, let’s face it, no school would want to rile up an opponent before a big game.

Texas A&M officials also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Clear Channel — the owner of the billboard — claiming trademark infringement.  Clear Channel responded by taking down the billboard.

According to The Gainesville Sun, Clear Channel honcho Jim Cullinan said the billboard was paid for by “a Houston media company representing  a group called Aggie Nation.”

Aggie fans immediately picked up on the whole “Aggie Nation” thing.  For those SEC’ers just getting to know A&M, apparently it’s Aggieland, not Aggie Nation… at least according to the many, many angry A&M fans I’ve heard from in the past 24 hours.  For that reason, A&M VP of marketing and communications Jason Cook — like many Aggie fans — suspects that someone other than a pro-A&M person put up the billboard.

“Texas A&M fans do not refer to themselves as the Aggie Nation… We refer to ourselves either as the Aggie Network or the Twelfth Man,” Cook said.

Cook told this site today:

 

“With words typically connected with Texas A&M, such as Aggie and Whoop, as well as the color maroon, we felt that we had a strong infringement case once the entire contest of the billboard was taken into account.

We have a strong suspicion that the billboard was not placed by an Aggie, given that we do not call ourselves the Aggie Nation, but rather the Aggie Network, Aggie Family or the 12th Man.  We know that the billboard order was placed out of Clear Channel’s Houston office, and we are continuing to investigate who placed it.”

 

Thanks to Cook for always providing a quick response to us.

Most Aggie fans have told us that they believe it musta/hadta be a Texas or Baylor fan who paid for that sign.  Mainly because no fine, upstanding Aggie would have ever done such a thing.

Of course, just for writing about the story, I’ve personally been accused of “yellow journalism” and have been threatened via email.  I guess no one in the A&M fanbase would post a billboard, but they would send threats to someone who covered a story that everyone else wound up covering, too.

Newsflash to Aggie fans — Yes, it could have been a pro-Aggie person behind the billboard.  Why?  Because there’s not a fanbase in the country that doesn’t have a few loons inside it.  Perhaps a Texas or Baylor group was behind the sign.  Perhaps a Florida fan in Houston bought the sign under the “Aggie Nation” name in order to fire up his own school’s team.  But it’s also absolutely possible that an Aggie did buy the board.  (Though personally, I hope it proves to be someone associated with Texas or Baylor.)

Interestingly, in addition to the “it couldn’t have been one us” responses that were so numerous yesterday, there was also a “the SEC just hates us” backlash.  Where this comes from I don’t know, but the feeling was summed up quite well by Yahoo! Sports contributor and TAMU alum Eric R. Ivie right here:

 

“SEC fans who are still looking for a reason — any reason — to hate Texas A&M’s arrival in the conference are, naturally jumping all over this billboard as a sign of Aggies’ ‘arrogance.’”

 

Oh, please.  Are there some folks who didn’t want A&M or Missouri or anyone else joining the SEC?  Sure.  But the vast majority of people I’ve spoken with believe the Aggies will be a good fit.

This site wrote about the billboard and there’s not been a bigger proponent of A&M-to-the SEC than MrSEC.com.  We’ve repeatedly stated that A&M and the SEC should have married years ago.  Last summer we guaranteed — when the Big 12 was being duct-taped back together — that A&M would eventually join the SEC because it made too much sense.  The two bodies had played footsie with one another for a quarter-century.  And TAMU fits the SEC mold perfectly — big school, rural school, football-crazy school.

Still, one A&M commenter said yesterday that he’s been a fan of this site since A&M joined the league, but two stories in the past week had changed his mind.  Last week I wrote that Kevin Sumlin would look bad for pushing back the suspension of two players from the opening game — against Florida — to later in the season — against Louisiana Tech.  Then yesterday I wrote that as a hater of trash talk, I hoped that A&M would get a wake-up call whoopin’ from Florida (if, of course, an Aggie fan or fan group had posted that sign).  That apparently convinced the commenter that I’m now a “yellow journalist.”

See the issue?  I write nice things about A&M… I’m a great fella.  I suddenly post two opinions that aren’t pro-A&M and I’m immediately a yellow journalist.  In other words, if I’m not writing something good about TAMU, I’m a bad person with bad motives because everyone knows that any person associated with A&M wears a halo and can do no wrong.

Well, I still believe A&M will be a perfect fit in the Southeastern Conference.  The passionate fanbase — 99% of which has been fantastic, by the way — fits right in with the rest of the league.  Like every other school, the Aggies have a few fans who take things too far and who believe anyone with an opinion that differs from their own must — Must! — have an agenda against their school.

We just call it like we see it around here.  No one at this site hates Texas A&M or the Aggie Nation — whoops — Aggieland.  We’re pro-A&M joining the SEC.  Heck, we like the folks we’ve dealt with at the school itself, too.  (Interestingly, they said nothing but nice things about the site and they didn’t take offense to what was written yesterday… unless they were one behind those anonymous threats I received via Hotmail accounts.  Hmmm.)

But if an A&M person put up that billboard, he deserves a little bad karma in the form of a loss for his favorite team on Saturday.  And if a Texas or Baylor fan posted that sign, we’ll be more than happy to report that right here in big, bold letters.  ‘Cause let’s face it, you can’t say “we’re glad you left” and then post billboards proving that you’re still obsessed with the school that left you.

Either way, any Aggie who expects to come here and read nothing but warm fuzzies about his school is going to be disappointed.  We’ll not agree with everything A&M officials or players or coaches or fans do.  When we don’t, we’ll write about it.  Just as we’ll say plenty of nice things when we do like what’s going on in College Station.

I don’t think anyone accused me or the other writers at this site of being “yellow journalists” when we wrote this piece.  Or this one.  We call it like we see it.  If you want to read pro-Aggie news all the time, better sign up for A&M’s Scout or Rivals sites.  If you want an outsider’s opinion — an opinion that you can take or leave — then you’re more than welcome to hang out here.

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Got Stupid? A&M Taunts UF With Billboard In Gainesville

All it takes is one idiot to ruin a party.  As the SEC’s newest members prepare for their first-ever conference games, both are having to deal with trash talk emanating from inside their own camps.

As you know by now, Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been gagged by Gary Pinkel after his suggestion that Georgia’s style of football is Big Ten-esque and behind the times.  UGA travels to Mizzou on Saturday.

Well, Richardson’s comment was nothing compared to a billboard put up in Gainesville by — all assume — someone associated with Texas A&M.  The billboard states:

 

“HOWDY GAINESVILLE:

You’ve been annexed by Aggie Nation

The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC.  WHOOP!

Real Football.  Real Tradition.”

 

If an Aggie-backer actually paid for that billboard, he’s done his favorite team no favors.  Why kick a sleeping Gator just days before Saturday’s A&M/Florida clash at Kyle Field?  (Aggie officials say they had nothing to do with the billboard and it does not feature any official A&M logos.)

Now, is it possible that someone with UF ties posted this to get his own squad fired up, a la Robin Williams’ actions in the little seen, but good flick “Best of Times?”  Maybe.  But one wouldn’t think a UF-backer would go anywhere near the “Best Academics & Cleanest Program” lines even if he was attempting to rile up his favorite team.

Apparently they just don’t teach Southern manners in the Show-Me and Lone Star states.  Also, MU and A&M folks should know that you don’t earn respect from SEC fans by talking or posting billboards.  You gain respect by winning games.

As someone who was hoping both the league’s newcomers would win their opening league games so we could end the “disrespect” nonsense right out of the gate, I’m now hoping both Mizzou and A&M — two schools I’ve repeatedly said will make fine additions to the league — get their fannies kicked.

Why the need for trash talk with people you’ve never played?  So childish.  So stupid.

Once helmets collide on Saturday, ugly comments and billboards won’t mean a thing.  But for now, if you want to be welcomed into the league — and the SEC has been very welcoming to both A&M and Mizzou so far — everyone associated with those schools should be trying to make friends, not enemies.  Hell, it was Florida president Bernie Machen who spearheaded the SEC’s discussions with A&M prez R. Bowen Loftin in the first place.  And his thanks is a mocking billboard in his own town?

Sorry, call me a fuddy-duddy, but I’m no fan of trash talk.  So I’ve gone from M-I-Z and Gig ‘Em to Hunker Down and Go Gators because of all this nonsense.  As someone with no fan ties to a league school, I usually just pull for the best storyline.  And those storylines have been changed by one player running his mouth and some nitwit posting a billboard.

If I’m invited to a party, I say “thanks for having me.”  I don’t mark my territory by micturating on the host’s carpet like one of Jackie Treehorn’s dimwitted thugs in “The Big Lebowski.”

 

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A&M’s Byrne Addresses His Imminent Departure

Last week, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin confirmed that which had been rumored to be true in College Station for months — that athletic director Bill Byrne was on his way out.

Byrne has been at A&M since 2002, but it’s believed he was not fully onboard with so many other members of Aggie Nation regarding his school’s move from the Big 12 to the SEC.  Making matters worse for Byrne, one of his top lieutenants was caught posting insulting remarks about Loftin — Byrne’s boss — on an A&M messageboard late last year.

Oops.

So it was only a matter of time before Loftin and Byrne went their separate ways – perhaps they’ll play some air keyboards together – and that time is drawing nigh.  Loftin said last week that he and Byrne are continuing to work out a plan that would allow Byrne to transition into a new role at the school until his contract expires in 2013.

Yesterday, Byrne posted the following as part of a weekly column to Texas A&M fans:

 

“I’m hearing from a few of you who were surprised to learn last Friday I was at a point of transition from my role as Athletic Director at Texas A&M. President Loftin announced it after a workshop on conference realignment last Friday in The Zone Club.  As I enter the last period of my contract, President Loftin and I continue to work together to continue the tradition of excellence of Aggie Athletics.

“I’ve been looking forward to my life after athletics.  I will be right there with all of you rooting for our teams and watching Texas A&M strive for championships.  This is a wonderful time at Texas A&M and I look forward to announcing, with President Loftin’s support, my next steps.”

 

We still believe Byrne will be given a parting gift in the form of cash and will be long gone by the time any new AD takes over at A&M.

 

(Sidenote — Hopefully all Aggie fans are now happy with the tweaked, darker tone of A&M’s itty-bitty button/banner up top.)

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